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Keywords:

  • Online learning;
  • graduate nursing education;
  • interactive case studies;
  • advanced practice nurses;
  • evaluation

Purpose

The purpose of this study was twofold: (a) to examine the effectiveness of two interactive online learning modules for advanced practice nurses (APNs) and (b) to examine the participants’ demographic characteristics and their perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of online learning.

Data sources

A purposive sample of 73 registered nurses and APNs enrolled in graduate study or continuing education completed an online learning course. These participants were pretested and post-tested using a knowledge test developed by the authors. Participants were also surveyed for demographic characteristics and perceptions toward online learning.

Conclusions

The findings of this study support case-based online learning as a successful method in the education of APNs. The evaluation of the online modules and the enthusiasm from students indicated success of this teaching/learning method. The majority of learners responded positively toward the online method of learning and included comments that indicated they enjoyed learning using this method, would like to have the site available at their practice locations for reference, and would like to have other courses designed and delivered in this manner.

Implications for practice and education

The effectiveness and quality of the online instruction ultimately matter most to student satisfaction in online courses. The future of online education is dependent on well-structured, interactive, and substantive programs. Educators are challenged to continually assess and evaluate the changing learning needs of APNs.